Indie labels to have global celebration


CANNES -- The world's independent record labels intend to make the July 4 weekend their own with a global celebration involving an auction of musical rarities and memorabilia, a unique album of indie tracks and a poll to name the all-time favorite independent albums.

Independents Day 08, as it is called, will be a 48-hour celebration of the music of independent labels kicked off as the sun rises in New Zealand and including Australia, Japan, North America, Brazil and Europe.

Announced Sunday by the World Independent Network, which brings together international indie trade bodies including A2IM in the United States and AIM in the United Kingdom, the event will raise money to support indie organizations and artists worldwide.

The album, intended as a collectors' item and comprising 75% worldwide hits and 25% local tracks, will be available online for just that weekend. The poll of favorites will involve radio stations in each territory playing that region's Top 10 independent albums.

Alison Wenham, president of WIN and chief executive of AIM, said the event is intended to mark the fact that 80% of the world's record releases are by indie labels, but claim just 27.5% of the market.

Independents Day 08 was the idea of Peter Gordon, president of Thirsty Ear Recordings and a WIN vp, who said that while it sounded like an oxymoron, it was intended to show that the sector might be horizontal in structure but it needed to be vertical in the modern world.

"We have to build our own infrastructure," Gordon said. "We can't ask our members for money because we're indies, we don't have any money. This is a way of making money from the resources we have. We all have things lying around -- guitars, tee-shirts, posters, whatever -- that are gold to somebody."

A2IM plans to give 25% of the money raised to the musicians' charity MusiCares with other funds going to boost membership in the various trade bodies, to energize markets where indie labels need help, and to WIN itself.

Amazon mp3, eMusic, Ioda and Sonicbids are on board for the event with items in the auction already featuring an album signed by Radiohead's Thom Yorke, drum sticks signed by AC/DC's Chris Slade and assorted items from acts such as Interpol, New Pornographers, Breeders, Pixies, Jackknife and Beirut.

"Artists sign to independent labels because they like to be with their peers," said Martin Mills, chairman of the Beggars Group label and indie body Impala. "You don't find artists who actually like a major label but you do with indies. This asks them to put something back. We think it's an amazing idea."